The apple harvest is well underway, the neighbours have been busy with their army of pickers; truckloads of bins have been hauled away to Willie Smith’s for sale, while I (and the wwoofers) have been busy…….. fencing. Without a working permaculture plan, nearly all my apples will again go to waste this year. One day, the surplus will be fed to pigs and goats and cows, in the meantime I just have to accept that these things take time, and hopefully next year I will be on top of things.
It’s been blowing a gale again. I was warned Arve Road was like a wind tunnel, and they were right. We had one gust to 85km/h (over 50 MPH). You may recall me mentioning my geese escaping from their tractor a few weeks ago….. well I think I’ve worked out why now. The night that happened was even windier than now, and I simply could not understand how they had escaped, though suspecting the wind had something to do with it, not least freaking them out. Today, I am certain the wind was involved! I found said tractor one windrow downwind, upside down this morning! And getting it back on its wheels will be fun, I am certain….. This is a problem I will have to solve, because the plan is to get some Muscovy ducklings soon, and they’ll have to live in that tractor until they are big enough to be as raptor proof as any duck can be.
Weighing it down with nesting boxes, and lopping the top off are options I will have to look into…..
Fortunately, not all the apples are going to waste, Annéa has been trying out every apple dessert recipe she knows, fueling Simon’s hard work! Even though I feel like my kitchen is way too crude, I think she’s enjoying having the facilities to apply her chemistry to good use. In fact, the pair of them love cooking too, and it’s a nice change for me to enjoy someone else’s for a change.
Last month, Matt and I made some cider from those apples I harvested from the Far East, in his shed, hoping to process at least some of his apples as well, using the equipment I inherited from Werner in Charlotte Cove…. but even with Matt’s idea of chopping up the apples with a sharpened stainless steel spade, the whole process was far too slow to do his cider as well as mine.
No doubt now he’s (mostly) finished with his harvest, I’ll be called upon to return the time invested in our cider to make some of his too!
Annéa harvested another lot of Geeveston Fannies, as she and Simon were very interested to experience some good old fashioned apple crushing.
As the last brew, now more than three weeks old, was happily bubbling away in the shed, they went to work chopping and scratting apples while I crushed. It took 3 ½ hours to produce 25 litres of yummy apple juice, which was somewhat sweeter than I remember the last batch to be…… It’s entirely possible that three weeks between pickings could have an effect on the apples’ sweetness and therefore resulting cider too.
Happiness is a full fermenter….! I’m sticking my neck out with this one, hoping to make the cider using the wild yeast that should exist on the apples to begin with. I’m told the results can be either disastrous, boring, or truly exciting. Only time will tell, fingers crossed.
There is also the possibility that I might have made an exciting discovery of sorts. I’m obviously new at this, and one of the things I didn’t realise (but should have) is that good cider, like good wine, is the result of much blending of different fruit varieties. Some of the apples that go into cider, you would never eat, so bitter and or sour are they…… and the other day, while walking the fence to plan how to redo them for keeping birds in and cattle out, I found one single apple on the ground, of a variety I had not seen anywhere else in the entire orchard.
It was much bigger than any of the apples here, and yellow. I took it to Matt, who cut a piece off the side that hadn’t yet started to rot, and the floury texture of the fruit plus its bitterness got him all excited, because, he thinks, it just might be a cider apple that could make all the difference between ordinary cider and great cider…… Matt’s always smiling, but this time, it was a different smile. He told me to go straight back and mark the tree, because we have work to do next season! He wants to graft sticks of that tree so we can propagate more of those apples, and we can’t even be sure that they are indeed an interesting cider variety….. because when he took it to Willie Smith’s for identification, they had no idea what sort of apple it was. Hopefully, we’re onto something big, and after all, one can only live in hope…… especially when it comes to drinking good cider!